Riding an electron wave: The Future of Microchip Fabrication?


Printing Graphene Chips(Nanowerk News) Advanced plasma-based etching is a key  enabler of Moore’s Law that observes that the number of transistors on  integrated circuits doubles nearly every two years. It is the plasma’s ability  to reproduce fine patterns on silicon that makes this scaling possible and has  made plasma sources ubiquitous in microchip manufacturing.
A groundbreaking fabrication technique, based on what is called  a DC-augmented capacitively coupled plasma source, affords chip makers  unprecedented control of the plasma. This process enables DC-electrode borne  electron beams to reach and harden the surface of the mask that is used for  printing the microchip circuits. More importantly, the presence of the beam  creates a population of suprathermal electrons in the plasma, producing the  plasma chemistry that is necessary to protect the mask. The energy of these  electrons is greater than simple thermal heating could produce—hence the name  “suprathermal.” But how the beam electrons transform themselves into this  suprathermal population has been a puzzle.
Plasma Wave Spectrum
A  plasma wave can give rise to a population of suprathermal electrons. (Credit:  I.D. Kaganovich and D. Sydorenko)
Now a computer simulation developed at the U.S.  Department of Energy‘s Princeton
Plasma Physics Laboratory in collaboration with the University  of Alberta has shed light on this transformation. The simulation reveals that  the initial DC-electrode borne beam generates intense plasma waves that move  through the plasma like ripples in water. And it is this beam-plasma instability  that leads to the generation of the crucial suprathermal electrons.
Understanding the role these instabilities play provides a first  step toward still-greater control of the plasma-surface interactions, and toward  further increasing the number of transistors on integrated circuits. Insights  from both numerical simulations and experiments related to beam-plasma  instabilities thus portend the development of new plasma sources and the  increasingly advanced chips that they fabricate.
Abstracts
55th Annual Meeting of the APS Division of Plasma  Physics
TO6.00005 Collisionless acceleration of plasma electrons by  intense electron beam
Session: Low Temperature Plasma Science, Engineering and  Technology
9:30 AM–11:06 AM, Thursday, November 14, 2013
Source: American Physical Society 

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